Toshao of Kurutuku, Solomon Lewis is stranded in Georgetown.
The leader of the remote Region Seven Amerindian settlement had left his community along the Cuyuni River on July 22 to travel to Georgetown for the National Toshaos Conference. The meeting ended on July 29.
Two weeks later, Lewis remains in the city as he waits to see when the boat he came in will be repaired. Lewis explained that there are many rapids on the Cuyuni River and on his journey to the conference; the engine hit a rock and the ‘foot’ was badly damaged. He said that at the conference, he had raised the issue with the community development officer and was advised by him to write a statement outlining what had happened.
Lewis said that he did so and then went to the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs to ask for assistance in repairing the boat. According to him, he was “pushed around” and last Wednesday was told that the ministry had no funds to assist in the repairs. Later, he said, he was told that the matter was being dealt with at the Finance Division of the Ministry and the process would take about a week or two.
Lewis said that he obtained a quotation from Mings for the repairs and this amounted to $491,000. “Without the repairs, I wouldn’t be able to reach Kurutuku,” said Lewis. He said that a passenger boat service did not reach that far because of a major rapids in the river. The toshao said that the Ministry is aware of the remoteness of his village and lamented the slow process for the repairs. He added that he is staying in a hotel and has to pay his own bills.